1927 Pitcairn PA-5 Mailwing

When flying the mail became open to private contractors in 1926, Pitcairn Airways of Byrn Athyn, Pa., was one of the first to be granted a Contract Air Mail route. Flying the mail from New York to Atlanta to Miami, the company later became Eastern Air Transport, forerunner to Eastern Airlines. Pitcairn Aviation manufactured its own aircraft instead of using older, unreliable war surplus aircraft. The PA-5 Mailwing was powered by a Wright Whirlwind J-5 radial engine, the same type used by Charles Lindbergh in his Spirit of St. Louis on his trans-Atlantic flight. The company selected Richmond's Byrd Field as a center base for its two divisions - Hadley, N.J., to Richmond and Richmond to Atlanta, Ga. Aircraft flying the northern route were equipped with radio as an experimental program; those flying the southern route to Atlanta had nothing but rotating beacons every ten miles as navigational aids. This 1927 Pitcairn PA-5 Mailwing came from the private collection of Sidney L. Shannon Sr.

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